Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Tightwad Tips for Families with Kids

I've read again and again about how expensive it is to have kids.  But as my two sons enter their teenage years, I've found that many of the costs that I was warned about were grossly exaggerated.  Of course that isn't to say that there aren't significant expenses involved in raising a family -- the extra food, clothes, medical costs, etc. are all very real.  Still, there are many ways for families with kids to save money.  For one thing, always be on the lookout for free deals for kids -- they exist everywhere whether you are traveling or just looking for some entertainment at home.

I've listed some of my other favorite tightwad tips for families with kids below:

Pregnancy
  • Borrow maternity clothes from a friend (or friend-of-a-friend) or buy them on ebay -- many new mothers are eager to get rid of these items once they get their figure back and sell them cheaply in batches.
Babies
  • Take those "must buy" lists you'll find in books and online with a grain of salt -- you don't need half the things they mention.
  • Borrow or buy used cribs, changing tables, and the like using sites like Craigslist.  Just be sure to check to make sure the item hasn't been recalled.
  • Whenever possible breast-feed rather than using formula -- it is considerably less expensive and moms lose the baby weight faster.
  • Accept all offers for hand-me-down baby clothes -- babies grow so fast that most items are like new.
  • Quality childcare can be pricey -- even if you don't use it full-time -- but there are plenty of babysitter bargains to be found.  Click here for some ideas.
  • I saved about $20 just by using a pillowcase as a changing table cover.
Toddlers
  • Play dough is a classic toy for a reason -- here's how to make your own.
  • Rely on your own creativity for entertaining your tots rather than pricey gismos and gadgets.
  • Trikes, big-wheels and the like can easily be purchased used (many families will be trying to get rid of them) - as always just make sure they aren't on the recall list.
Elementary and Middle School-ers
College
  • As college costs approach, it is a good idea to sit down with your child and candidly discuss the return on investment of all the different college options that appeal to him/her.
  • I like programs like Upromise that make saving for college effortless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

7 Habits of Frugal People

Capitalizing on the success of the popular book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which describes ways people can reach their life goals, the MoneyNing blog has listed a similar approach to meeting your financial goals.  Read the article by clicking here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Saving Money at Outlet Malls

I just ran across an article that I think has lots of good tips for shopping the summer sales.  While this piece is focused on shopping at outlet malls, many of the tips -- such as adding coupon savings to sale prices, bringing your own snacks rather than overpaying at the foodcourt, knowing the regular retail price so you know when you are really getting a bargain, and looking the merchandise over carefully -- are applicable to most sale situations.

Want more tips and tricks for saving money when shopping for clothes and accessories?  Consider these:

Best Bargain Web Sites
Discounted Designer Duds
Frugalista Fashion Finds
Sales, Sales, Sales!!
Tightwad Tips for the Frugal Fashionista
Tightwad Tips to Make Cheap Clothes Look Luxe
A Frugal Fashionista's Four Fashion Rules
When to Save; When to Splurge

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finding the Cheapest Prices

A study released a few months ago about prices at Target being lower than those at Walmart generated all kinds of comments and hoopla.  But rather than making shopping decisions based on articles like this, we find it is more useful to compare prices on the items that we actually purchase ourselves on a regular basis, since many of the items in the "basket" the study was based on, are not relevant to us.  Whether you keep track of prices in a notebook, in your head, or electronically, you need to know what YOU (not someone else) are paying for things, to determine if shopping at another retailer will save you money.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cut Your Dry Cleaning Costs

I've written before about how dry cleaning can be very expensive so I try to do everything I can to avoid it.  First of all, I try not to buy clothes that require a trip to the cleaners.  This requires reading -- and interpreting -- labels carefully.  I've found that when clothing manufacturers say "dry clean only," they really mean it.  This label is mostly reserved for delicate, tailored or very embellished items.  Note that when the label just says "dry clean" it might be worth it to try washing it.  I've had great success in washing wool, cashmere and silk sweaters, all kinds of velvets, and even silk blouses (but not charmeuse - you often loose that beautiful smooth sheen).

Occasionally even items that I would never believe are washable are.  For example, almost every lined jacket I own wears the "dry clean only" label.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find two cute lined, cotton blazers that are machine washable (and on sale at incredible prices, no less!).  One even has care instructions that indicate I should throw it in the dryer, too (the other must hang to dry).  So it really pays to examine the care instructions!